So, How Big Are Your Speakers?

Posted in Professionalism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2012 by djscottshirley

One way to spot an inexperienced amateur DJ or sound man is that they advertise and boast about how BIG their speakers are.

Ludicrous speaker is not exactly “portable!”

Experienced professionals understand that better coverage using numerous smaller speakers works better for most events. Lots of little speakers provides greater control of volume and allows zones of sound.

And bi-amplification – using separate loudspeakers for low frequencies and mid-to-high frequencies – lets the pounding bass notes stay where you want them, (like on a dance floor), without excess volume in conversation areas.

DSP (Digital Signal Processing) can eliminate echos and harsh acoustics in difficult spaces.

There is an art and a science to sound! It’s much more than having the biggest speakers – and much less.

Call Party Machine Celebrations for all your events that could benefit from great sound!

Everybody Thinks He Can Be A DJ!

Posted in DJ Stuff, Party Machine Celebrities!, Weird Things at Parties with tags , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2012 by djscottshirley

Loyal Blog readers have heard me say that everybody and his dog thinks he is a DJ now. Many have seen the now-viral photo of my chimpanzee DJ.

Just when you think you have seen it all, the trend becomes a royal mess – yes, HRH the Prince of Wales had to try it out:

Perhaps I should take up polo.

“And They Will Throw Rice at Your Wedding”

Posted in Texas Aggie Weddings, Weddings! with tags , , , , , on April 24, 2012 by djscottshirley

I write a lot about traditions. I have posted about ethnic traditions, school traditions, family traditions, yachting traditions, and weird traditions.

At Texas A & M University, the big joke is that if you do it twice, it’s a tradition. Their Traditions Council has recorded the origins of some of their long-standing traditions. But the origin of many traditions is often lost to the mists of time.

Do you remember the last time anyone threw rice at a wedding?

Newlyweds were once pelted with rice when they left. Now birdseed seems to be the weapon of choice.


It was the tradition for many years for guests to throw rice as the Bride and Groom made their honeymoon getaway. The origin for this is vague, but it is supposed to symbolize wishing prosperity and fertility to the newlywed couple. In other cultures, guests might throw dates or figs.

In America we stopped throwing rice, in favor of birdseed, due to fear of harming birds. Seems the birds would eat the dry grains of rice, which would expand in their stomachs, ultimately causing the poor bird to explode. Everyone now “knows” this, and it is simply not PC to throw rice any longer.

Turns out it’s all nonsense.

Why aren’t there stories about exploding birds? Because it doesn’t happen.

Pigeon shrapnel!

I always suspected this. I recall driving through the rice fields of south Louisiana and seeing that they were filled with birds. Some were eating the crawfish and other critters in the flooded rice paddies, but many birds were eating rice. And we never once saw a bird explode.

Our culture is so pre-programmed to believe that any story that gets repeated enough must be true. So it became universal practice to use birdseed instead of rice. The past few decades have seen couples running through bubbles, rose petals, and sparklers as well.

There are some practical reasons to favor birdseed. Rice can be hazardous to walk on, and a bear to clean up. Many venues banned rice for these reasons…but it had nothing to do with exploding pigeons. And so far no one has exposed a conspiracy by bird seed companies to promote their product this way.

I recently heard of a hazardous birdseed story. Someone purchased birdseed for a wedding that was specially treated to keep squirrels from eating it. After showering the bride and groom with it, they developed a painful burning and itching, as did many guests who came in contact with the seeds. Turns out the active ingredient was capsaicin, extracted from chili peppers. That was a hot wedding!

So now that the truth is out, will we see a return to the rice throwing tradition?

We now have special "Designer Wedding Rice"

There are new, improved rice products being marketed for weddings that are supposed to be safer and easy to clean. Some is even heart-shaped! And it won’t make birds explode – just as regular rice won’t.

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 25

Posted in Uncategorized on February 21, 2012 by djscottshirley

25) Take Requests, But Know When To Say NO!

People ask if I take requests, and of course the answer is YES.

Requests are part of the fun of having a DJ entertain! Unlike most bands, who tend to focus on a single genre of music, Party Machine DJs have no limit to what we can play.

Other than, of course, the client’s wishes, and good taste. It is never appropriate to play music that offends people.

So we are able to promise our clients that we will not play songs with obscene or racist lyrics. There is no good reason to play such songs, and plenty of good reasons not to.

When we plan events with our clients, we make a list of “must-play” songs, and a list of “don’t play” songs. But we don’t make a playlist for the whole event, because that defeats the purpose of having an experienced DJ, who not only takes requests, but has the knowledge to know what to play when, to make the party flow.

A loud heavy metal song with screaming guitars is not right for an elegant cocktail hour at the beginning of a wedding reception…but might be perfect later when the dance floor is rocking. Timing is everything.

So sometimes the answer to a request is, “Yes, but later, when it fits in.”

Children don’t get this. Kids always ask for their song to be NEXT! And it doesn’t matter to them, that there are other people whose requests are ahead of theirs. And there is lots of gender bias among pre-teens: the boys typically hate the latest teen heartthrob, which of course is all the girls want to hear. It can be comical, but experienced DJs have plenty of tricks for dealing with selfish and demanding kids and their requests.

Here is how one Dutch DJ handles requests for a kid’s event:

Gotta Have Pirattitude!

Posted in Pirate Holiday on May 20, 2011 by djscottshirley

Never miss an opportunity to dress like a pirate!

That’s one of my prime beliefs. So when the Perfect Wedding Guide (PWG) sent invitations to their New Issue party, I was thrilled to learn we were supposed to dress with a P, W, or G.

Some wore pajamas, lots of pink and purple, but for me, it was an opportunity to break out the Pirattitude, with the added bonus of my lovely wife (MLW) dressed as a saucy Pirate Wench Girl (PWG).

Scott and Brenda celebrating with PWG. AAARRRR!

Karaoke and the Dumb Blonde

Posted in DJ Stuff, Weird Things at Parties with tags , , , , , , on February 22, 2011 by djscottshirley

I’m not one to cast aspersions on any group, nor to perpetuate any stereotypes.

But stereotypes generally arise based on some real-life experience, so with apologies to my blonde friends who are reasonably intelligent, I share this recent experience.

Party Machine Celebrations was providing Karaoke entertainment for a High School dance troupe that was in town for a contest. This group had plenty of talent, and several had obvious choral and stage singing experience.

One girl sang a solo of a current hit song, and was midway through and doing quite well, when the song went into an instrumental break. The on-screen instruction stated “Instrumental,” and then changed to say, “Spoken word.”

The singer panicked, threw her arms up, and shouted “I don’t know the words!”

Imagine her surprise when the words she didn’t know, magically appeared on the screen in front of her!

Yes, she was blonde.

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 24

Posted in 35 Things Learned in 35 Years on January 31, 2011 by djscottshirley

24) Every Genre Has Great Music

Musical taste is a strange and wonderful thing. Everyone has songs they love – and songs they just can’t stand. Humor columnist Dave Barry received more reader mail after a column on bad songs than he got for anything he ever wrote! This prompted a book, that is one of the funniest things ever written:

Dave Barry hits the nail squarely on the head in this book. But he also strikes a nerve, by naming some of your favorite songs among his list of bad ones. It’s hard to read this book, without taking offense about one of your favorites being labeled “bad.”

So it seems musical taste is not so simple! One man’s bad song is someone else’s sentimental favorite.

For a DJ to be effective, it’s important to suppress any tendency to play his own favorite music, and instead to become a sort of “musical chameleon,” reflecting the varied and complex musical tastes of the unique individuals in the audience of the event.

Each person has their favorite songs, and preferences for certain genres of music and certain artists. And, many of them will have a particular musical genre or artist they really hate.

In a great scene from the 1980 comedy classic “The Blues Brothers,” they pretend to be the band hired to play at a rough honky-tonk bar. The manager informs them, “We like both kinds of music: Country, and Western!”

The resulting chaos is hilarious:

Most people are not as polarized about their taste in music as those bar patrons. The majority of us are pretty tolerant, and will gladly suffer through a song we know somebody else likes – as long as we know we will get to hear what we like too.

It was early in my Party Machine career that I learned a simple fact: every genre and category of music has its great songs – and some real stinkers, too. With a diverse group of people, I can always keep them happy with an eclectic mix of different styles, by playing the truly good songs from every genre.

I always run out of time before I run out of good music.

Take a simple test: think of your least favorite kind of music. Maybe you don’t like rap music, or you just can’t stand country. Now, try to think of some song in that style that’s maybe not so bad. Now try harder. Listen to some songs in that genre. Open your mind, and get a friend who likes it to play some of his or her favorites.

It’s a fact: every genre has great music. At Party Machine Celebrations, we understand this, and can and will play the best of all kinds of music.